Natures Detail Is Unending

Why not be a botanist for a day? Pick a branch from a houseplant, a flowering plant, a flower, something from the florist, or something from your own garden or backyard.

1. Sit and see the branch or flower as you may have never seen it before.

2. Look at the direction, length, and width of the stem.

3. Look at the arrangement of the leaves on the stem. Are they opposite (across from each other on the stem) or alternate (one on one side of the stem, one on the other side of the stem, up the stem)?

4. Look at the shape of the leaves. Think in visual terms—what basic geometric shapes are similar to the shape of your leaves?

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Detail is part of why you pick an object, why it seems to go nicely with another object. Texture is the pattern or surface of an object and further defines it.

A flowering branch has its own proportion, angles, shapes, and relationships, in the parts and as a whole, so there is a lot to see and draw.

Practice in seeing proportion in nature is practice in seeing it for anything—as well as just good practice.

5. Look at how the flowers sit on or hang off their stems.

How are they arranged?

How big are the blooms relative to the leaves?

What general basic shape do the flowers remind you of? Trumpets, flat spheres, little balls, cones, or what?

6. Flowers are the reproductive organs of their plant. Don't ignore that, exploit it. See all the shapes and draw them.

Flower shapes and detail all have a purpose— procreation and the attraction of those bees, insects, and hummingbirds that do the work of pollinating the flower; drawing the detail tells us about each individual purpose as well.

7. Consider the base of the flower in your decision. How do the back and front of the flower meet?

8. Look at the shapes and sizes of the petals.

Are they all alike?

Are there pairs of petals? Pairs of three? Maybe five petals, but not all alike? Where do they join the base of the flower? Do they overlap? How much?

The shapes and angles of petals are as expressive as the parts of the figure.

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